Come Summer was back in the barn at Wind N Wood Farm outside St. Michael on Saturday afternoon, but his ears must have pricked with all the conversation about him taking place in Shakopee.
Even Mother Nature seemed to know that this was his day at Canterbury Park and contributed a sunny, breezy summer afternoon, ideal for the 12th running of the $50,000 Come Summer Stakes.
Come Summer didn’t run on the turf at Canterbury, but as the track’s first Horse of the Year in 1985 deserved something in his honor when the track reopened.
Thus, a mile race on the turf was named for this son of Junius, who earned $360,237 before retiring as a six-year-old.
The mile race on the grass for three-year-olds drew a field of seven, all of them shippers and only one of them locally owned.
Cherokee Triangle, a son of Cherokee Run from Brief Bliss, was sent off as the second favorite at 3 -1, and made his bid under Jason Lumpkins coming out of the turn, outside front-running Atta Boy Roy and 2-1 favorite Mr. Mischief.
Cherokee Triangle had only two previous career wins before Saturday’s race and a resume that includes an unimpressive showing in the Breeders Cup Juvenile on the Turf last year. None of that mattered on Saturday after he took charge coming out of the turn and finished a length in front of Snoose Goose, owned by Joseph F. Novogratz of Eden Prairie. In third was Free Fighter.
Cherokee Triangle is owned by Skychal Racing LLC & Sand Dollar Stable out of Louisville, Ky., but had some Minnesota representation in the winner’s circle. Wade Wacker of Jackson works for a CPA firm that does the books for a number of owners and trainers. That’s how he picked up an interest in Cherokee Triangle.
“I know (Cherokee Triangle trainer) Michael Maker real well,” said Wacker. “He knows what he’s doing. When he says buy, we all listen.”
Cherokee Triangle had six starts as a two-year-old, winning twice, but hadn’t won a race this year until Saturday. “He was struggling, wasn’t running well but that changed today,” said Wacker.
Call it fate, irony or a cosmic happening, but the winner of the next race, for maiden claimers, on Saturday’s card was a four-year-old brown gelding named On Shaky Ground. The owners are Wind N Wood Farm, where Come Summer stands.
Stands? He’s 26 years old, for crying out loud.
Owner Dave Dayon chuckled. ”He has a mare in foal this year,” Dayon said. Come Summer has been a bit shaky this week, however, so Dayon has been keeping an eye on him.
Approached on that very topic by Nat Wess, Canterbury’s director of racing, Dayon quipped:
“I don’t watch him closely at all, Nat. “But I can tell you this. There were two piles of manure in his stall this morning, one in the far corner and one on the other side. And he peed right in the middle of the stall.”
“Not bad. A good line,” Wess responded.
Come Summer set the Canterbury record for a mile and 70 yards (1:40 and 1/5) on Aug. 18, 1985. Dayon thinks the record will last indefinitely. He’s not so sure about Come Summer, but has his hopes.
“I’d like to bring him back here on the 25th anniversary of the track in 2010. We could call it the Year of the Summer, or something like that,” Dayon said.
They could call it something altogether different if the celebration date is Aug. 18, the day the record was set.
That’s also Dayon’s birthday.
MEAN COMPETITOR STAKES
When he ran at Canterbury Downs during the mid 1980s, Mean Competitor demonstrated just how special he was, twice setting the record for 870 yards and also winning the 1986 Minnesota Turf Classic (TURF!!) at the same distance. He won several races in convincing fashion.
So, too, did a horse named First to Ramble, ridden by Tad Leggett on Saturday, in the $27,000 Mean Competitor Stakes. With lifetime earnings of $226,000 prior to the race, First to Ramble padded his account by winning easily, covering 870 yards in 46.183.
I Should Say, with Ry Eikleberry up, finished second. Im Capt Morgan was third.
Chief Magistrate was the best of the Geritol set in the fifth race on Saturday, beating a field of eight rivals ranging from five to ll years of age in a mile and 1/16 claiming event on the turf.
The win was the second straight on the card for Tanner Riggs and the second in two days for Jamie Ness and Web’s Gems Stable. Chief Magistrate is an eight-year-old gelding by Judge T C.
Ness and Paul Nolan teamed up for two additional victories on Saturday’s card _ with Citypro in the first race and Hunter’s Monarch in the sixth.
HOW ABOUT A TRAGIC THOROUGHBRED TUNE
There is now evidence that country-western music and handicapping the horses are related in some odd way.
Take a recent article in the New Yorker, detailing the comings and goings of a music writer in New York, Chip Taylor. Never heard of him? Surely, you’ve heard some of his tunes _ “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder), Angel of the Morning.”
He’s written songs for Willie Nelson, the late Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris and countless others.
Certainly, you’ve heard of his brother _ Jon Voight _ and his niece, Angelina Jolie.
Well, it seems that Taylor not only likes music but likes the horses a whole lot, too.
At one time, he gave up music altogether so he could concentrate on horse racing with his partner, a legend in the game, Ernie Dahlman. Taylor followed the horses on a daily basis. He also became a good blackjack player, good enough that the eastern casinos banned him.
Taylor is back writing music again, and has never quit handicapping the races.
He loves both but hasn’t revealed any intentions to write a sad, country lament detailing, say, the life of a luckless, loveless horseplayer.